South Africa is pressing hard on the pedal for entrepreneurship in youth education. This approach is pivotal given South Africa’s current challenges in higher education, and highlights the need to address poverty and unemployment by educating and developing the skills of young men and women across the country’s villages and urban areas. Stepping to this challenge, a total of 340 aspiring and small business owners graduated from the University of Johannesburg (UJ) on Wednesday, 16 March 2016.
The student entrepreneurs have graduated from the University’s Centre for Small Businesses Development (CSBD) with Business and Entrepreneurship qualifications which will empower them to become the ‘captains of their own destinies”. Students from previously disadvantaged backgrounds are able to make the most of this opportunity by enrolling in the Programme.
This is made possible by the support of a number of the University’s Centre partners such as Buffelshoek Trust, Sabi Sand Pfunanani Trust, Sabi Sand Wildtuin, The Jobs Fund, Raymond Ackerman Foundation, Thebe Foundation, Shell Downstream South Africa, to mention but a few. UJ’s Finance and Expenditure Services is also a supporting partner of small business education programmes.
At the graduation, there were speakers from various industries to highlight the unique contribution that the graduates will make in society. These included UJ’s Faculty of Management’s Executive Dean, Prof Daneel van Lill; business mogul Dr Raymond Ackerman; Ms Lorato Phalatse from the Buffelshoek Trust; Mr Mokgethi Tshabalala from Thebe Foundation; Mr Trevor Van Noord from UJ Finance and Expenditure Procurement Services; and Ms Annelien Herringer from Shell Downstream South Africa.
The speakers at the graduation ceremony emphasised that success in businesses depended largely on hard work, commitment and determination. Another hallmark of a “great business” is giving back to the communities which contributed to the success of the business and its owner.
One of the most impressive achievers was the large group of graduates who from rural communities in Bushbuckridge, Mpumalanga. These 136 students, representing 73 businesses, form part of the Pfunanani Enterprise Development project (www.pedproject.co.za). Through the Pfunanani project, they have been equipped with a range of skills to create vibrant village-based economies in the communities bordering the Sabi Sand Game Reserve.
These partners have committed to a two-year long programme, which aims to empower village-based entrepreneurs through training, mentorship and market linkages to reach a standard that matches their urban counterparts. Their success will contribute to safer communities, job creation and poverty alleviation in the areas surrounding valuable conservation sites.